Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. has been slowly expanding its scope of service, and facilities, since it began operating in 2000, but the need for further expansion has always been a concern.
With that in mind, the UNHS Board of Directors has been planning for several years to build a new, larger clinic in Montezuma Creek to accommodate the growing number of providers needed to serve UNHS patients in that area. Early in 2015 the Board also decided there is a need for another clinic in Blanding because the current Blanding Family Community Health Center is running out of space to house all its providers.
Last week, UNHS CEO Michael Jensen officially announced new building projects in both communities that will increase the organization's ability to focus on providing better primary care for all patients. The plan calls for a new 17,000 square-foot, single-story, building in Blanding and a nearly 34,000 square-foot, two-story, building in Montezuma Creek. The Montezuma Creek project will be constructed on land already owned by UNHS, directly across the street from the UNHS EMS Ambulance Garage, just north of the Montezuma Creek Elementary School. The site for the Blanding facility has not yet been formally announced.
"Our goal is to award the architectural contracts in October and have the official set of plans drawn up for both projects," Jensen explained. "The plan is to break ground on both projects next spring as soon as weather permits. We intend to award the bid for both projects to the same architect and the same contractor."
According to Jensen, the new building in Montezuma Creek will be a very large clinic, and is the highest priority for UNHS because that's where the greatest need is. He also noted that the UNHS Board of Directors has been saving money for quite some time to fund large capital projects such as these with the focus, as always, on quality patient care.
"We want our patients to be seen when and where it is convenient for them. We will still utilize the current Montezuma Creek Clinic and Blanding Family Practice Clinic, but we will simply expand our services into the new buildings," Jensen added.
In Blanding, for instance, Jensen said the new building will contain a large number of dental suites, as well as exam rooms and screening areas to be used by all the UNHS contract providers, such as ENT, Cardiology, Moran Eye Center, Podiatry, Telemedicine, Nephrology, etc. This will make all the room in the current Blanding Family Practice facility available for primary care providers and their patients, making it possible to bring more primary care providers onboard.
Jensen also noted that the extra space will accommodate a new, same-day appointment, walk-in provider who will not have daily appointments. Instead, this provider will only see patients who walk in with cold and flu symptoms and other minor complaints without an appointment. He said this service will be starting in the near future at Blanding Family Practice and is already being offered at the Montezuma Creek Clinic.
Jensen said there is no set timetable for completion of the two new building projects, but he said the goal is to have them completed and ready for use as soon as possible once construction begins.